House of Representatives Passes Patent Reform Act


On June 23, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the America Invents Act (304-117) (H.R. 1249), which will alter some central aspects of the current patent system.


Over the last five years, various members of Congress have been seeking to reform the Patent Act (Title 35 of the United States Code), and several key reforms have gained both bipartisan and broad industry support, e.g., a first-inventor-to-file (FITF) regime and expanded reexamination proceedings. However, there are some issues that have divided supporters of patent reform. In particular, groups representing the electronics and software industries have disagreed with groups representing the large pharmaceutical industry about the types of relief available for patent infringement, in particular the calculation of money damages.

H.R. 1249 adopts many of the key reforms that now have broad support. For example, this bill alters how the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is funded. In addition, it calls for converting the patent system from the current first-to-invent system into a first-to-file system, creating a post-grant review system, establishing a pilot committee to review questionable business-method patents, and removing the qui tam provision from the false marking statute. The final vote (304-117) included 168 Republicans and 136 Democrats voting in favor of and 67 Republicans and 50 Democrats voting against the bill.

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